Tag Archives: SD38

SD 38. HORSFORTH TO BARWICK IN ELMET.

It would be a challenge to find green footpaths across the north of Leeds so we ate a hearty breakfast. If we weren’t doggedly following SD38 we could have used the waymarked Leeds Country Way which skirts northern Leeds. Away at 9am the morning was cool but promised a clear day. Within a street or two of our hotel we entered Meanwood Park for an interesting mile of varied park and woodland – what a good start to the day. Even the incursion into strange David Lloyd territory gave us open access across a park into Moortown where we watched but failed to photo a low flying Red Kite, what a magnificent bird – how can people shoot them out of the skies?

Meanwood Park.

Anyone for the gym?

Blackthorn in profusion.

Our next aim was Roundhay Park and we had no option but to take to the pavements weaving through quiet streets.

Classic walking territory.

The park was busy with families enjoying the warm sunshine and open spaces. Our first priority was a coffee at the Mansion House overlooking the park. A stroll through the grass down to the lower lake, here we left the crowds and climbed up through the woods to cross Leeds Golf Course out onto a lane by Cobble Hall.

Grand entry to Roundhay Park.

Expensive coffee break.

Looking back at the Mansion.

 

Across another busy road was an industrial area where we thought we may be able to creep through to Red Hall, but no such luck new building is in progress and the whole area fenced and gated. We stood around wondering about some form of trespass when only 10yds away was a signed permissive path going in our direction. We skipped along pleased with our SD38 fortune and came out the other side en route.

No way …

… but how lucky are we?

A mile and a half straight rural road looked promising on the map but turned out to be the highway from hell, our worst section of the whole trip, I suspect it was a short cut out to the A1[M].

With relief we found a footpath, time for lunch and some peace and quiet. The scenery changed becoming rolling open fields, the start of the Wolds. Our destination was Barwick in Elmet a busy little village with a cross, the largest maypole I’ve ever seen [26m], a few good-looking pubs and more importantly a bus stop to Leeds.

Barwick in Elmet.

Leeds centre on a Saturday was all a buzz and we were glad to catch the crowded train back to Skipton. Two excellent days walking across the Bradford – Leeds corridor on surprisingly green paths.  We are now over half way across our SD38 line and looking forward to rural walking to the coast.

*****

SD 38. SALTAIRE TO HORSFORTH [LEEDS]

What could have been an uninspiring day in the hinterland of Bradford and Leeds turned out to be almost a green corridor of pleasant walking. It was not difficult to keep close to our lateral line with the proviso from Sir Hugh to incorporate a visit to his primary school in Thackley.

From the rail station in Saltaire we quickly reached the Leeds – Liverpool Canal to follow it off and on throughout the morning. At first all was industrial, historically relating to the canal with some fine mill buildings brought into the 21st century.

There were a few scattered sculptures including this one which was a pun on the Salt Mill connection…Hanging on the wall of my garage is an Ellis-Briggs cycle frame, probably 40years old, so I was delighted to pass their establishment which has been building steel frames since 1936. The cycling scene was booming in the 1930’s and the other notable established builder was W.R. Baines, whose factory was based at Thackley, see above and further into the walk. Coincidentally I rode a 1950’s Baines ‘Flying Gate’ cycle for many years.

 

Some nondescript scenery followed enlivened by some dubious and unsuccessful canal boat manoeuvering, it is difficult to do a three point turn.

Climbing away from the canal on cobbled paths above railway tunnels we entered Thackley, a mixture of old stone houses and modern estates, and found Sir Hugh’s school still open and extended since his time. Up here was the local cricket club with a very challenging sloping pitch, Sir Hugh’s father had been a member.

From the map we were not sure whether we could access the canal towpath from open country but thankfully there was a bridge. Soon we were sat on a bench looking down locks near Apperley Bridge, this was a busy stretch with pedestrians but no boat movements.Crossing busy orbital roads took time unless there were lights. We switched from the canal to follow the River Aire alongside the sports grounds of Woodhouse Grove School. The river continued through remarkably rural scenery despite being close to the railway and new housing developments.

Pleasant suburbs gave us twisting streets heading for Hawksworth Park which turned out to be a wooded valley. More parkland and upmarket housing and we arrived at our excellent budget hotel for the night.

*****

SD 38. OLDFIELD TO SALTAIRE.

There were several unexpected highlights on today’s walk and despite heading into the congested Aire Valley we enjoyed rural walking throughout on one of the warmest sunniest February days I remember.

Continuing our straight line walk meant once again logistics of two car parking. Sir Hugh suggested Saltaire as a finishing point so we arranged a rendezvous in the large free car park there, all went well with my journey until I became stuck in early rush hour traffic, not the best of starts for a day’s walking. With the late start and more traffic problems we drove back to our last point in the Ponden Valley.  Sir Hugh seemed to know all these intricate Pennine roads and little villages or at least the lonely Public Houses where he spent his money when living in the area as a young man. We were stunned when the lane up to our isolated parking spot was closed necessitating back tracking and finding an alternative route on what was becoming a frustrating morning.

At last we set off down a bridleway high above Ponden Reservoir only for Sir Hugh to realise he’d left his phone on the car, fortunately we hadn’t gone far. This initiated a conversation on things left behind on walks and the cut off distance where one is prepared or able to return. Poles, passports, waterproofs, cameras and particularly hats were prominent on the list. We ran into problems with unmarked, difficult to follow and blocked paths in the Oldfield area and at West House farm admitted defeat and took to the road for a while. None the less there were many interesting houses passed.

High above Ponden Reservoir.

Before he’d realised his loss.

We were concerned with our poor progress after the delayed start on what would be a long day but as often happens things suddenly improved and remained so all day. We encountered a deep gorge not apparent on the map and decided to take the old flagged path alongside down to the River Worth which was then followed for a mile or so through green fields. We reached a road at an old mill that had been restored to provide modern living accommodation. There were several pack horse type bridges on this stretch reflecting the days when the valley was thriving with small riverside mills.

On the edge of Haworth I had noticed on the map a ‘Railway Children’s Walk’. The Railway Children by Edith Nesbit, published in 1906, was set in Yorkshire and a 1970 film used The Keighley and Worth Valley Railway as a backdrop. I remember watching a BBC TV series back in the 50s. Thus Haworth’s tourism benefits from both the Bronte connection and the preserved steam railway.  We followed the lane across the Mytholmes railway tunnel made famous in the film …

… I regret now not going the extra few hundred yards to view the authentic Oakworth station featured prominently in the film. No trains today so we climbed up the steep hill to the busy Cross Roads and would you believe it – halfway up a steam train came into view way below us in the valley, bad timing. Up on the road the stone houses all bore that blackened look of the industrial past.

At Barcroft we reached high open countryside and enjoyed marching out with distant views to Bingley. In the fore ground was a prominent rocky tor, Catstones, and we speculated on the climbing possibilities and the height of the faces.

A bench below was perfect for lunch, I didn’t have the energy to ascend to the rocks. An inscription was dedicated to a Cllr. Ron Senior who pioneered a circular walk around Cullingworth, Senior Way. We felt well qualified to follow it.

We ended up just using the pavement through Harden but then entered St.Ives country park for a popular woodland walk to the edge of Bingley. The park is yet another old estate taken into council ownership providing a wide range of activities, we only skirted the edge.

A lane dropped down to bridges and fords at Beck Foot, a site of old mills, all very picturesque in the sun. An ecyclist proudly showed us his bike and extolled the virtues of battery powered leisure, not sure what it is doing for his fitness.

The River Aire, on its way into the industrial Leeds, was followed through fields to give another aspect to this day’s walk. Surprisingly rural although there was rubbish evident. A last stretch of woodland linked to the Leeds Liverpool Canal which took us into the heart of Salts Mill at Saltaire. Formerly a textile mill, now an arts centre, built by the philanthropic Sir Titus Salt in 1853, along with the adjoining Saltaire village in the hope of improving the conditions for working people. The whole complex is worthy of a day’s exploration. We found our car as the sun was setting and joined the heavy traffic home.

*****

SD 38. NELSON TO OLDFIELD.

This was a day of two halves, first the transition from industrial Nelson to the complex field paths in its rural hinterland and then second glorious moorland walking over to Yorkshire.

We left the car in a dodgy carpark in Nelson assured by a couple of youths we wouldn’t get clamped. With nervous looks back we climbed modest streets eastwards towards Mecca or was that the local bingo hall. Views back down the streets showed a misty Pendle.

Anyhow we found ourselves in  Marsden Hall Gardens which proved fascinating. Originally owned by the Walton family [more of them later] the estate passed into Nelson Corporation ownership in 1912. The 16th century hall still stands above the gardens. We came through the ‘Egyptian Gate’ a sandstone edifice with interesting carvings, most notably it is known as ‘the wishing gate’ and to this day people place leaves in the carved holes before passing through and making a wish.

Our next goal was an iron age fort marked on the map at Castercliff, despite its obvious size and prominence there was no local signage. It was constructed maybe 500 BC and there is no evidence it was ever occupied. The views from the summit over the towns in the Pendle Valley were hazy but retained the feeling of being up high. The way kept going upwards and ahead of us on a hill in the distance was the prominent monument to the Walton Family.  A Victorian cross place atop a 9th century monolith which would warrant further close investigation.

The next hour or so found us navigating seldom used paths in rough fields between ancient farms. At one stage a Jack Russell harried us noisily for a good half mile through fields from its farm. At the time we were hopelessly lost and the farmer was shouting unclear directions. Things improved as we approached the south of Trawden, walking down a quiet lane we passed the idyllic and listed New Laith Farm. Once on the edge of town we turned off right into the narrow street of White Lee, old cottages gave way to new housing as we turned down an old mill lane to cross Trawden Brook and climb up to more Laith farms, the word meant granary or simply barn and is used a lot in northern England.

A working Will O’ Th’ Moon farm.

Residential New Laith Farm.

The way became rougher as we climbed higher. We found an enclosed track crossing the moorland to the west of Wycoller and lunch was taken high on this  ‘Forest of Trawden’ looking over the Wycoller valley.

We dropped into the valley  and made our way to Parson Lee Farm which we recognised from coming  through on The Bronte Way last year. The winding track climbed slowly up into the moors, our journey pleasantly interrupted by a lengthy conversation with two passionate fell runners enabling Sir Hugh to reminisce on his one and only fell race. A trod took us across a wilderness to reach Watersheddles Reservoir, whereas last time we walked down the dangerous road from here today we found the concessionary path alongside the water. Up here we listened to Oyster Catchers by the shimmering water and Grouse and Curlews further afield, all very evocative.

There was only a short stretch of road before we turned up the quieter side road which gave us panoramic views over the Ponden area. We crossed The Pennine Way back to our car completing a satisfying 10 miles in perfect weather. Somewhere along the way we had crossed from Lancashire into Yorkshire which we will remain in for the rest of our route, so only the two great counties coast to coast.

*****

 

SD 38. LONGRIDGE TO BARROW [Whalley]

Pendle in all its glory.

A bus runs two hourly back to Longridge from Barrow, there is one at about 5pm.  My bus app says there is one due in 5 minutes, we should be OK.   As we approached we found ourselves in newly developing housing,  we took to the access road only to find it was blocked with that wire fencing erected around building sites. Panic followed as we peered through the fencing at the nearby bus stop. We didn’t have time to burrow Colditz style under the security barrier but with a little lateral thinking we made our escape onto a nearby lane and as we arrived at the road an unidentified bus was approaching. A desperate outstretched hand somehow halted the bus and we clambered on thanking the driver. We were home and dry.

The day had started more sedately with a stroll through housing estates in Longridge until we were level with the quarries at the top of town. The caravan site in the largest quarry was closed for a few weeks and there was no one climbing in the esoteric Craig Y Longridge. Here we left the roads and took to a bridleway below the incongruous ‘chalet’ development that was so controversial when planne, it pales into insignificance with todays developments in the town.The only thing of note was a new seat with an agricultural theme.

Walking on water.

Down the old lane we arrived at ‘The Written Stone’ which I’ve mentioned several times in local blogs.

What I hadn’t noticed before was the typo error where the carver had misspelt stone and added a small o later.  We then spent the morning traversing the southern side of Longridge Fell on paths and tracks between ancient farmsteads crunching through the snow in bright sunshine. One of the first farms, 250year old Hoardsall, has the appearance of years gone by. This morning the farmer was busy splitting logs, his source of fuel, in an outhouse with his black and white cat watching on. We fell into conversation and gleaned a fascinating history of sheep farming in the area. His farm yard was cobbled with local sandstone setts which had been augmented in the past with granite setts removed from Brook Street in Preston. [I knew of an antique  business which purchased old setts, street architecture, pub paraphernalia and red phone boxes etc when Preston was being ‘modernised’] A fascinating encounter which makes me think that these insights should be recorded for posterity.

New Row Cottages in Knowle Green formerly belonged to cotton weavers and are now a peaceful haven away from the main road.

Ahead was a tree topped hillock of unkown origin. Eventually we joined the delightful bridleway alongside Dean Brook into Hurst Green. One of my favourite walks. We lunched on a wall by the Shireburn Almshouses which were first built on Longridge Fell in 1706 but moved and rebuilt in Hurst Green in 1946. The village is closely associated with nearby Stoneyhurst College whose grounds we walked through. Much has been written about this famous Jesuit establishment. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stonyhurst  All the while a snowy Pendle loomed in the background.

Leaving the grounds we dropped down to cross the River Hodder at the historic border between Yorkshire and Lancashire. You take your life in your hands to view the inscription on the bridge and the nearby ‘Cromwells Bridge’

We did not enjoy the forced road walking into Mitton and were glad to escape into a quieter land leading to the 12th century All Hallows Church. Next door was the stately 17th century Great Mitton Hall. Downhill on the busy road we crossed the River Ribble with more views of an arctic Pendle Hill. This is fantastic Lancashire countryside. Pleasant field paths led us to our debacle with the new housing estate. The best day so far on our SD38 journey.There were signs of spring all along the way.

*****

SD 38. INSKIP TO LONGRIDGE.

This is long distance walking in easy stages designed for winter exercise. Todays stage actually finishes in Longridge, my home town, which is convenient for me if not for Sir Hugh who has to travel from Arnside, but it was his idea in the first place. At least today we meet up in the agreed destination, a good start. We are walking by 9.30 on a clear sunny morning with a strong cold wind at our heals. There must have been a lot of rain last night judging by the pools on the road – an ominous sign. We take to footpaths as soon as we can and end up in deep mud similar to where we left off last week. The stiles around Singletons Farm are virtually impassable, blocked by hawthorn, but we push through.Crossing a field we are confronted by the next stile leading into a lake, no way we can go that way so we retreat and hit the minor lane to Cuddy Hill [sounds Scottish] and the well-known Plough Inn. After all the frustating obstacles I was ready for a drink but of course they hadn’t opened. Eventually we find the onward path and emerge onto a lane which took us over a canal. In the past we have both walked the The Black and White, Lancaster Canal.    but we didn’t recognise the location,

We were on the A6 for a short distance before crossing over onto tracks to end up in fields,  navigational errors had us back tracking to reach Jepps Lane. The A6 seemed like the transition from the flat floodplain of The Fylde to the pleasant countryside of the Ribble Valley. The wind by now had intensified and many of Sir Hugh’s pearls of wisdom were lost. I had never been down the lane to Barton Old Hall before but it conveniently crossed the motorway for us. The Old Hall was hidden behind trees and the cluster of houses and conversions at the hall were rather depressing.

I think we were deterred from the actual path through the properties but still found ourselves in rolling countryside alongside the proverbial babbling brooks. Time passed as we weaved our way through the pleasant Lancashire countryside. The Bowland Fells rose in the background and ahead was a glimpse of Longridge Fell.

 

We passed the stately Goosnargh Lodge, joined some local routes and reached Goosnargh Mill, not the best of conversions.

I was now on home ground and confidently marched across fields finding hidden stiles until we reached one that was in such a dangerous state we had to retreat yet again and find an alternative way. Worse was to come as what had been open fields was divided up by permanent electric fencing, the sort used for equine enclosures, with no regard for any public rights of way. Attempts at crawling under on the wet ground were not pleasant so we took to dismantling the top wires to step over, there was fortunately no electric current. Reports to LCC  are on their way. A rather sour note towards the end of the day.

He who dares – SAS training.

Just before Longridge we passed Sea View cottages,  and yes you could just about see back to the coast where we had started SD 38.The road into Longridge is now surrounded on all sides by new housing developments, the Fell can just be glimpsed above the roofs. It is no longer the attractive, honest, little town that I moved to all those years ago.

 

 

*****

SD38. SINGLETON TO INSKIP.

The night before I arrange with Sir Hugh  where to meet up for our next stretch along northing SD 38 . I’m sat waiting at New Hall whilst he is sat waiting at Cuddy Hill a mile and a half away, a misunderstanding compounded by the wrong mobile numbers. Redfaces and ‘mea culpa’ all round. Once communications are re-established we drive to Singleton to start walking later than we had planned. By now there is a glimpse of sunshine.

Singleton is an interesting village with an old PO, several lodges and halls, picturesque cottages, a fire engine shed and a Parish Church. The estate was developed from 1853 onwards by the Miller family, wealthy cotton manufacturers working  with the Horrocks family in Preston. The estate is now held in trust and appears well maintained. There are permissive paths through the estate but we lack the maps to use them.

At Singleton Hall’s South Lodge the original gates bear the initials of Thomas Horrocks Miller and on the gate posts ‘Demi Wolves’ taken from the Miller coat of arms.

The old PO.

Lodge gates.

A Demi Wolf.

The timber-framed fire engine house is nearby, it has decorated plastered walls and a louvred bell tower. The engine was horse-drawn and before a fire could be attended the horse had to rounded up in the adjacent field. 

Estate cottages lined the lane and worshippers were leaving the church as we passed.

Thistleton, Elswick and Inskip villages were visited in turn. Not far off is the site of Cuadrilla’s controversial fracking wells and the local feeling is demonstrated by all the anti posters.

Does fracking cause earthquakes?

Todays walking was easy through fields but we lost count of the high awkward styles and muddy farm tracks.

The farms we passed were a mixture of traditional working and modernised for rich commuters. The stangest was an old thatched cottage with a very modern residence built within yards of it. Strange, who would want to do that?

Everywhere were ponds, former marl pits, that look as though they are used for fishing and duck shooting.

Elswick is known for the Bond’s ice cream shop, now more of a restaurant.

Inskip is known for RNAS Inskip, a former forces base and airfield. It is now used as a military high frequency radio transmitting station and the antennae can be seen for miles in this flat landscape.

The last farmyard was the worst for muck just before we reached the car. Jolly Japes.

Maybe you would be advised to read Sir Hugh’s account of the day. http://conradwalks.blogspot.com/

*****